In the chronicles of Hip Hop, the tale of the DJs who formed the genre’s foundation is a significant but frequently ignored episode. More than just record players, they were the masterminds behind a revolution in sound as they created the beats and rhythms that would reverberate for decades to come. These turntable maestros made songs into anthems and beats into cultural movements, utilizing their art with precision from the busy streets of the Bronx to the vibrant borough of Brooklyn.

Their skillful hands transformed raw sounds into the pulse of a thriving movement. With each scratch and fade, they engraved their names into Hip Hop's DNA and set the framework for a cultural phenomenon. REVOLT has compiled a list of 16 trailblazer DJs whose influence extends far beyond the dance floor but define the very essence of Hip Hop as we know it. Check them out below.

1. DJ Kool Herc

Hip Hop was born in August 1973 when DJ Kool Herc and his sister organized the Back To School Jam at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. Herc introduced his groundbreaking technique, “The Merry Go Round" by blending breaks back-to-back and laying the foundation for the genre. Even though the Jamaican native stopped DJing by 1980, his legacy as the father of Hip Hop lives on.

2. Grandmaster Flash

Hailed as the first DJ to achieve superstardom, Grandmaster Flash is revered as a turntablism giant who pioneered ground-breaking inventions that stay relevant. He created new avenues for DJing by using methods like punch phrasing and backspin. With his Bronx friends, the artist formed the renowned rap group Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, which was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

3. DJ Clue

Carving out a niche for himself, DJ Clue takes precedence in the world of Hip Hop exclusives and freestyles. In the mid-90s, he caused a stir in both the industry and the streets with his mixtapes, which featured unauthorized tracks from rap's elite. He seamlessly transitioned into radio, becoming the first DJ to release a platinum-certified album with 1998's The Professional. Along with his accolades, the New York disc jockey was instrumental in discovering multi-platinum rapper Fabolous.

4. DJ Drama

The mixtape industry veteran DJ Drama co-founded Aphilliates Music Group in 2003 with DJ Don Cannon and DJ Sense. His Gangsta Grillz series helped artists such as T.I., Jeezy, Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane gain popularity. Despite a setback in 2007 due to legal issues, DJ Drama bounced back and founded the record label Generation Now, which houses artists such as Lil Uzi Vert and Jack Harlow. He is still a mixtape titan.

5. DJ Premier

The former Gang Starr member became well-known for creating the East Coast Hip Hop scene's sample-driven landscape in the 1990s. Although he established his reputation as a producer for artists such as JAY-Z and The Notorious B.I.G., DJ Premier possesses equally impressive turntable skills. Whether he's controlling the decks at the best events in New York City or incorporating vocal samples into his tracks, his reputation as a DJ is unquestionable.

6. DJ Screw

DJ Screw invented a distinctive musical subgenre in the 1990s with his handcrafted screw tapes. The main element of these recordings included chopped and screwed versions of well-known local musicians, which instantly made the Houston native famous. Even after his passing on Nov. 16, 2000, he continued to establish himself as a Hip Hop star and pioneer of southern rap by leading the collective Screwed Up Click.

7. DJ Khaled

Originating from New Orleans, DJ Khaled perfected his abilities by spinning at local sound clashes and on pirate radio before becoming well-known as the face of Miami Hip Hop. He moved to the city around 1994, where he became popular as the co-host of "The Luke Show" on WEDR 99 Jamz alongside Unkle Luke from 2 Live Crew. Then, he established his position in the Hip Hop scene by launching his own weeknight mix show, “The Takeover,” in 2003. DJ Khaled became a member of the Terror Squad with Fat Joe's cosign, which helped him prepare for the release of his 2006 debut album, Listennn... the Album. Since moving into a curator role, he has become widely recognized for his hit tracks and chart-topping albums, all while supporting up-and-coming artists from the South and beyond.

8. Marley Marl

When a heavyweight like Marley Marl is mentioned in one of Hip Hop's ultimate anthems, it only confirms his solid credentials and enduring legacy among the elite DJs. In 1994’s “Juicy,” The Notorious B.I.G. paid tribute to the New York native with the line, "Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl,” which verified Marl's status as a true pioneer. In addition to co-founding the Juice Crew with Mr. Magic, the OG became known for producing Roxanne Shanté's iconic track "Roxanne's Revenge" and significantly influencing rap luminaries ranging from RZA to DJ Premier. His production abilities are evident in albums like In Control, Volume 1, and classics by golden era artists such as Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J.

9. Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay, the turntable master behind Run-DMC, was instrumental in bringing rap into the national spotlight in the ’80s while influencing both the group's sound and appearance. Beyond his DJ duties, Jay demonstrated his musical abilities by laying down tracks on albums such as Raising Hell and leaving his mark on cuts such as "Jam-Master Jay," "Jay's Game" and "Jam-Master Jammin'." In the 1990s, he expanded his influence by establishing JMJ Records, where he discovered artists such as Onyx and 50 Cent. His legacy went beyond music when he co-founded the Scratch DJ Academy.

10. Funkmaster Flex

DJ Chuck Chillout mentee Funkmaster Flex worked his way up the airwaves from KISS-FM to WBLS 107.5 FM before landing at Hot 97 in 1992. He made history as the first host of the station's Hip Hop radio show. Renowned for his signature bomb sound effects, Flex drove the New York City rap scene during its golden era. He pioneered self-branding in mainstream DJ culture by releasing four gold-certified compilations in the 1990s. The Bronx native is a true icon of the game.

11. DJ Kay Slay

DJ Kay Slay, also known as "The Drama King," dominated the Hip Hop scene during his prime. He dropped exclusive tracks while simultaneously calling out your favorite disc jockey. The former graffiti artist from Harlem rose to fame as one of New York's hottest mixtape DJs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, influencing iconic rap beefs and championing the city's gritty lyricists. Slay continues to make waves by releasing a slew of compilations under his Streetsweepers label and maintaining his position as a true voice of the streets.

12. DJ Clark Kent

Breaking into the industry during the late 1980s alongside rap star Dana Dane, DJ Clark Kent has long been one of Hip Hop's chief arbiters of dope. Contributing production credits to tracks by JAY-Z ("Brooklyn's Finest," "Coming of Age," "Cashmere Thoughts"), Junior M.A.F.I.A. ("Player's Anthem") and other artists, the Brooklyn native also aided in signing rapper Shyne to Bad Boy Records. Kent's raw skills and crowd control have kept him as one of the most sought-after DJs in the game.

13. DJ Scratch

DJ Scratch made a big splash on the scene in 1988 by winning the Battle For World Supremacy DJ championship at The New Music Seminar. When he joined rap group EPMD, his cutting and scratching skills became legendary. The three-time Grammy Award nominee made his mark on EPMD's Unfinished Business album and has since contributed to a staggering 44 gold and platinum records over the last 30-plus years. As the owner of ScratchVision, the Brooklyn native gives fans a front-row seat to his work. Winner of “Master of the Mix” in 2010 and Turntablist of the Year at the Global Spin Awards from 2012 to 2014, Scratch is not just your favorite DJ, but likely your favorite DJ's favorite DJ.

14. DJ Spinderella

In a Hip Hop scene that is often perceived as a boys' club, DJ Spinderella proved that women were not only welcomed, but can also thrive. Her tenure as Salt-N-Pepa's DJ, which began in the late 1980s, provided a platform for her to show off her flair and finesse on the decks. Beyond spinning records, hyping up crowds and sharing the stage with the iconic duo, Spinderella displayed her production skills on Salt-N-Pepa albums such as Blacks’ Magic and Very Necessary. Her journey also led her to the Los Angeles radio station KKBT 100.3. Let's not forget her Grammy Award-winning status, clinching Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group with Salt-N-Pepa for their hit "None Of Your Business."

15. DJ Greg Street

DJ Greg Street has long established himself as one of the most influential DJs from the South. The Mississippi native cleverly linked his guitar to his turntables, which helped him stand out from the crowd. His journey through multiple radio stations across the region, including 93 BLX in Mobile, Alabama; and Magic 102 in Houston and K-104/KKDA in Dallas, Texas, indicated his reach.

16. DJ Jazzy Jeff

With decades in the game, DJ Jazzy Jeff has earned respect from fans worldwide. This Philadelphia icon rose to prominence as one-half of the legendary rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. He helped pioneer the transformer scratch, which was brilliantly showcased on tracks like "The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff" and "Live at Union Square, November 1986." Along with his musical projects, he has released two compilation albums, The Magnificent and The Return of the Magnificent, and continues to host his annual PLAYLIST Retreat while performing on stages around the world.